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What is ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an activity involving pouring a bucket of ice water on someone’s head or donating to the ALS Association in the US.

Participants get a bucket of ice water tipped over their head. Then they nominate two of their friends, who have 24 hours to tip a bucket of ice water over their own heads or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.

They’re raising money for the ALS Association, to research the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral throughout social media during the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2014 with numerous celebrities, politicians, athletes, and everyday Americans posting videos of themselves online and on TV participating in the event.

Although pouring water over someone’s head on the internet for charity has been around since last winter, it only went viral when the family of Pete Frates, a baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS two years ago, started their own campaign.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an activity involving pouring a bucket of ice water on someone's head or donating to the ALS Association

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an activity involving pouring a bucket of ice water on someone’s head or donating to the ALS Association (photo Getty Images)

The origins of the idea of dumping cold water on one’s head to raise money for charity are unclear and have been attributed to multiple sources.


The challenge was popularized in the US on June 30, 2014, when the Golf Channel Morning Show televised the social media phenomenon and performed a live on-air ice bucket challenge.

Before the popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge, levels of awareness, fundraising, research funds, and overall public support for ALS were extremely low.

After the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media, public awareness and charitable donations for ALS soared to unprecedented levels. On August 18, 2014, the ALS Association announced that it had received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period, July 29 to August 18 in 2013. These donations came from both existing donors and 307,598 new donors to the Association.

This year, Steve-O questioned the campaign, suggesting that celebrities’ videos generally forgot to share donation information for ALS charities, and that the $15 million in funds is insignificant, given the star power of the celebrities participating. He noted that, of the videos he viewed, only Charlie Sheen and Bill Gates noted that point is to donate money.

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